Corey Brock has a nice story up over at MLB.com today about the changes in dimensions at Petco Park. The facts on the ground so far are interesting — Brock notes that three home runs — all by the opposition — would have been long outs before the fences were moved in. The overall thrust of things seems to be that the dimension changes won’t be dramatic, buy will make things more fair.
I’m far more interested in the stuff he writes about climate in San Diego being the much bigger factor, which certainly sqaures with my experiences there. I’ve told this story before, but a few years ago my brother and I went to doubleheader of sorts at Petco. The day game featured the Lake Elsinore
Dragons Storm [I don’t know what I was thinking] the Padres’ high-A team, playing a “home” game there. The ball flew out of the park with multiple homers being hit by guys that were likely never to make the bigs. Then around 7pm-7:30 the marine layer rolled in and the temperature dropped and the ball just friggin’ died on everything hit up in the air.
The fences aren’t going to fix that. Nothing likely will given the geography of the place. But as someone rather partial to pitching, I’m not sure I care all that much.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.